Category: Assistance Journal

Assistance Journal–Dealing with a laptop’s Wi-Fi that failed after a Windows 10 upgrade

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro convertible notebook at Phamish St Kilda

If you find that your computer doesn’t work as it should after an operating-system upgrade, check for newer device drivers from the system’s manufacturer

I had become part of a “men’s shed” community which encourages men to get together and engage in meaningful activities while being a chance for them to open up to each other easily. Here, it became a point where I could “put my skills on the table” and one of the men came to me about an underperforming laptop.

After I had gone through and removed some bloatware and updated the display-card driver on that laptop, the man approached me about this same notebook not connecting to his home network’s Wi-Fi segment since he upgraded it to Windows 10 as part of Microsoft’s free-upgrade program. I had noticed that it could connect to other Wi-Fi networks including the community’s own Wi-Fi network but he mentioned that it wouldn’t list his home network’s ESSID at all.

Subsequently I came around to his home to see the problem for myself and noticed that my Android phone could see the home network’s SSID but not this laptop. I used Windows Device Manager, part of the Windows operating system, to identify what kind of Wi-Fi adaptor was being used in that laptop and had previously researched this problem as something that could be driver-related.

Windows 10 Device Manager

Device Manager – a catalogue of all of the hardware in your computer

After that, I had hunted down a newer device driver for the Wi-Fi adaptor from the computer manufacturer’s Website and downloaded it to the computer. Then I ran the updated driver’s installation program and, after this update was performed and the computer restarted, Windows 10 properly listed the home network’s Wi-FI ESSID. I selected that SSID then used the WPS “push-to-connect” function to fully connect the laptop to the home network and it worked properly.

I even completed an Internet-connection “acid test” of having the client load a social-network session and check that it reflected the latest activity. By loading a site that is frequently updated with changing information, it avoids the Web browser loading material held in its cache which can be common with a site that doesn’t change frequently which makes me think that the Internet connection is working properly.

If you find that something like your computer’s Wi-Fi functionality misbehaves after an operating system upgrade, identify the kind of device performing the function using Windows Device Manager or a similar tool. Then track down the latest driver software from the computer’s, adaptor’s or chipset’s manufacturer and install that software. Typically this can fix the problem once and for all or make the hardware work better with the operating system.

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Assistance Journal–Linking a desktop computer to a home network

HomePlug AV adaptor

The HomePlug powerline adaptor – a no-new-wires network best for that desktop computer

This last Saturday, my church’s pastor opened up to me that he was running in to difficulties with connecting his desktop computer to his home network. This happened after he moved to a new location due to a new ministry placement.

In his previous location he ran an integrated Wi-Fi setup because the router for his home network was located in the lounge area, next to his home office and this wasn’t causing any problems for him. But the new location required the computer and router to be further away from each other.

A follow-up call led me to find that he had bought a wireless range extender with an intent to use as a wireless-Ethernet bridge but found that this device was difficult to configure. Here I suggested something better in the form of a HomePlug AV500 powerline network segment which is something I have always advocated on this site as a “no new wires” solution for situations involving desktop computers and similar devices. He was confused about how these network segments worked because he was used to either a “new-cables” Ethernet setup or a wireless setup as a network setup and though this technology wasn’t going to work in his situation.

After the church service, we went out to lunch at a local shopping centre and afterwards, he and I went to a local JB Hi-Fi store in the shopping centre and he bought a HomePlug AV500 kit upon my recommendation. I had him have a look at the concept diagrams that were on the boxes of some of the other HomePlug devices stocked nearby this kit to understand what these devices were about and how they work.

Later on, my pastor rang me for assistance in setting up the HomePlug AV500 network and I helped him over the phone through the setup process where you have to press the SimpleConnect paring buttons to pair the adaptors over the AC wiring and establish the connection. This involved holding down the SimpleConnect button on one device for 10 seconds then pressing the SimpleConnect button on the other device for 2 seconds but watching for the lights to flicker in a certain way.  I also suggested that this procedure is done on power outlets that are located close to each other before finally connecting them to the desktop computer and the router.

I also stressed that these adaptors had to be plugged directly in to the wall or in to an ordinary powerboard or double adaptor that doesn’t have surge-protecting or line-conditioning features. A few minutes later, I received a text-message of success that he had established the HomePlug AV500 powerline segment and set this up with the desktop computer and router.

Here, this support situation illustrated the fact that Wi-Fi wireless networking doesn’t suit all network needs and situations; and that a HomePlug AV500 powerline network can provide a better “no-new-wires” solution for sessile devices like desktop computers or home entertainment equipment.

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Assistance Journal–Using a separate network connection to troubleshoot Skype

A few weeks ago, I had visited my barber to help him out with this home IT needs as part of a “quid pro quo” arrangement. He had a few issues with Skype underperforming because with him being an Italian migrant, he relies on this videoconferencing tool to communicate with his family back in Italy.

A test I had done as part of troubleshooting Skype was to run an Internet-based videocall. This was done using my smartphone running the Android version of Skype and connected directly to the Telstra 4G network while his laptop was connected to the home network via Wi-Fi and the network was serviced by a cable-modem broadband Internet service. Here, I had started the Skype videocall further away from the laptop so as to avoid acoustic feedback or unnecessary echo while using my headphones to hear my barber on my smartphone when he was speaking in to his laptop.

Here, I hadn’t noticed any problems with the Skype conversation when the Internet connection was used, with the call not sounding stuttery or the video not being choppy. But an international VoIP connection can show up problems at different times of the day such as during peak Internet times like daytime for one of the countries.

This is similar to a Skype “dry-run” I suggested to someone else whose daughter was heading off to the UK as part of an exchange-student programme. Infact, doing a test call where both devices are on a separate Internet connection can be used to determine whether Skype, Viber or similar VoIP applications are behaving properly. In the case of Viber, there is a desktop softphone client available for this VoIP service.

Separate Internet connection

The requirement is that one device is connected to a wireless-broadband modem or another network serviced by a separate Internet connection. This can be easy for a smartphone or tablet that is associated with a wireless-broadband service, but you would have to disable the Wi-Fi network functionality so that the mobile device doesn’t associate with the home network. In the case of a laptop, you may have to connect via a wireless-broadband modem, “Mi-Fi” router or another network service by a separate Internet service. This could be your work’s network, a neighbour’s home network or a wireless hotspot at a library or café.

Acoustic isolation between the devices

Similarly, headphones or a handset like one of the “trendy old-look” handsets that you connect to a smartphone can come in handy here to avoid echo and acoustic feedback if you are in the same house. Here you would need to use this with one of the devices or use one device well away from the other device such as in another room, preferably behind a closed door.

These arrangements can he useful for either practising the use of Skype or similar VoIP software on a new device or interface; or troubleshooting a balky VoIP connection,

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Assistance Journal–Getting the hang of Skype before your overseas-travelling child flies out

Just last night, I received a Facebook message from a close friend of mine regarding practising with Skype. Here daughter was about to fly out to the UK as part of an exchange-student programme that she enrolled in and she knew that I was able to provide her with computer assistance as required.

Here, I recommended that this close friend and her daughter set up for Skype so they can communicate with each other for free using this tool while she was in the UK. This included using the video-telephony feature so that they can see each other and see the overseas environment that they are in from afar.

This friend had completed Skype sessions with other relatives after setting up this program. Then I exchanged the contact details and integrated her details in my Skype contact list. After a long chat session, I was able to get her familiar with the user interface and have her practise the basic tasks. One of the test runs that was done was for the mother to have her laptop connected to the home network and the daughter’s laptop connected to a 3G modem so as to simulate the arrangement that would be used in the UK.

It is infact a good idea to do a “dry-run” with Skype if someone is heading overseas for a significant amount of time. This is more important if you are not confident with this program or with computers at all or you have set up a new computer or home network.

Similarly if you purchase a Smart TV or video peripheral that has Skype integrated and you then buy the camera accessory, you could use these “dry runs” to get yourself familiar with the Skype implementation in the equipment.

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Assistance Journal – How we set up to show family pictures on the large screen

Where to go to enable DLNA in Windows Media Player 12

Where to go to enable DLNA in Windows Media Player 12

Just lately, the couple whom I am living with bit the bullet to buy a flatscreen TV. They wanted something that was to be good-quality and would be known to last a long time. They asked me for some assistance on this matter and I recommended any of the newer Panasonic, Sony, Samsung or LG sets and not to worry about getting 3D for exanple. So the husband went out and chose a 40” variant of the new Samsung Smart TVs.

I had got this new set going in our home and attached it to our home network using Wi-Fi with the supplied Wi-Fi network adaptor dongle as well as connecting it to the aerial (antenna), the Samsung Blu-Ray player they purchased as well as an existing PVR. This opened up a variety of opportunities like access to ABC iView and SBS On-Demand which represented the on-demand front-ends for their favourite TV channels.

DLNA collections listed as sources on the TV

DLNA content collections listed as sources on the TV

But the lady of the house wanted also to show their newly-taken pictures, including some from a recent holiday of theirs, to her mother-in-law who was arriving the next day. So I set up the husband’s desktop PC which had the images on it to enable Windows Media Streaming in Windows Media Player. This allowed the computer, which was on the home network to share all the pictures in the Pictures library on to the home network using DLNA which this TV supported. There was also a network-attached-storage which they bought which I had set up as a backup / offload device for photos and I had also set this up for DLNA media-server functionality.

DLNA media directory provided by server PC

DLNA media directory shown on TV screen as provided by PC

The whole setup worked properly using DLNA. I had subsequently demonstrated to the husband how to bring up the latest images from the computer using the TV’s AllShare interface. This is where the TV listed each DLNA media collection as a source alongside the TV tuner and all sources connected to it, thus simplifying the operation experience for them. They were able to select the PC by its name, then select Pictures and choose how they wanted to view them, an activity which for someone with limited computer skills was able to get the hang of easily.

But I infact exposed this couple to the DLNA concept and why I stood for it earlier on when I was involved in choosing another network-attached storage device. Here, I looked over the box and was looking for “UPnP” and “DLNA” logos on the box to be sure that the NAS complied with these standards. Subsequently I mentioned that I was looking for network equipment that stood for these standards due to ease of access to stored media on the device from compliant equipment.

What this has been about is demonstrating the use of a network-capable TV set being able to “draw down” pictures from a computer using commonly-available standards. Then being able to locate and view these pictures in a manner that is very intuitive even for people who don’t have much in the way of computer skills.

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